In My Kitchen ~ September 2016

In My Kitchen… I’m not in my kitchen.

Three weeks ago I was catapulted into care-taker mode again, and it’s likely I’ll be here equally as long or longer. (Sorry I can’t give any details, but I can tell you about the food.) Unfortunately I left in such an all-fired hurry that I forgot my camera!

Oh well… you know me and words. ;)

Today I made Wolfgang Puck’s Chicken Pot Pie. Imagine the slow-simmered aroma of chicken and veggies with a hint of thyme, graced with a glug of velvety heavy cream, topped with a butter-laden, Cheddar-studded crust that baked up SO golden King Midas would covet it. Oh my!

Then there was homemade pizza night. Pizza 1: Canadian bacon with diced fresh pineapple under a thick blanket of melted Mozzarella atop artisan herb flatbread. Pizza 2: Italian sausage, sliced Soppressata and grape tomatoes, torn fresh basil, and grated Pecorino Romano with garlic-herb goat cheese on a gluten-free crust. (That’d be mine, swoon…) BTW, I used Muir Glen Organic Tomato Herb Sauce on both (win/win) for lack of time to make my own.

Other tasty contenders were homemade sweet & sour pork with fried rice and “potato pancake” egg foo yung; whiskey & black pepper pork tenderloin with smashed Yukon gold potatoes; Gouda grilled cheese sandwiches; Windsor pork chops with mashed potatoes and creamed peas; cheese boards with fresh fruit, crackers & charcuterie, and repeated requests for poached eggs on toast.

Cooking has been therapeutic for all concerned. ;)

I’m looking forward to perusing more IMK escapades with photos on our hostess Maureen’s website following the summer hiatus. Come visit or join us by the 10th to discover a planet-full of kitchen fun! Home is where the heart (or stove) is, xo.

Enjoying cooking in temporary surroundings… again,

~ Kim

The Art of Sitting

The Art of Sitting

The Art of Sitting has nearly become extinct. Few people know how to sit without feeling the vague pressure to do something else.

When did we get in such a hurry?

My education in sitting began at a young age. Later, I succumbed to the busy years. High school activities, first job(s), marriage, parenthood… but, something was missing.

(Mostly sitting down.)

Then came “the trucking years.” All I did was sit, but at least it was scenic!

After I slowed down long enough to stay in one spot, I remembered the supreme serenity that came from sitting quietly and contentedly. Contemplating something or nothing at all. Simply “being.”

I credit my Dad for that late-in-life rediscovery.

Several years before he passed, I began giving him chairs as gifts (not big ones, although the man-sized leather recliner in his workshop was one of his favorites) to express thanks for teaching me one of the most important lessons in life.

Sitting still.

I treasure every moment that Dad & I spent in a fishing boat waiting for a walleye to bite, on the front porch watching corn grow, in the shade of the ash trees “taking a break”, out the dining room windows witnessing a spectacular sunset through the pine silhouettes in the grove, or at his bedside telling “stories.”

Now Dad’s quirky fun lil’ chairs have come home with me. (Wish I’d thought of it sooner… there’d be more.)

The Art of Sitting 1

I’ll be contemplating their significance for some time to come.

Sitting, of course.

Enjoying a less frenetic pace at the lake,

~ Kim

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch…

Living The Dream

I can’t tell you how glad I am to be home. (Or, maybe I did already.) If so, sorry for the repetition. It’s just that I’m acutely aware of the contentment, relief, and multitudinous blessings that the Universe has continued to dole out since my arrival here last month — without asking.

Pinch me.

Maybe it was that lil’ side table that recently arrived from Jaipur…

Jaipur Coffee Table

I’ve since remanded it to my Garden Room (aka “office”) because it didn’t afford adequate space for cocktails and remotes and whatnot in the living room as my beloved & I attempted to re-acclimate to our long-neglected “mutual space” while we got used to each other once again. (Such is life.)

Plus… feeling selfish, but entirely blessed… I love it so.

That, and it needed some green to offset its rich, dark brown hues. (See it there on the left?) Apologies for the lighting. Every day is an adventure at the lake.

Garden Room update

I still have to break out the paint to transform that bench on the far side of the room to the glory I once envisioned. (Tangerine? It may end up paprika!) Or, as the Monet I dreamed of painting in my Music Room long ago… which has since been converted to a “Tool Room.” My hubby gets to play, too! (We miss our garage.)

In the meantime, I’m relishing creative license — revising dreams daily — and going with the flow.

I wish you the same… and some mighty tasty vittles. (Sneak peek below.)

When life — or your surroundings — or painting projects — don’t work out as planned, feed your soul. Enjoy every bite and every spontaneous revision along the way. It’ll work out eventually!

You’ll know when it’s “just right.”

And you’ll be glad you waited. (Or changed your plans.)

Enjoying flux,

~ Kim

Twice As Nice (Croatian Chicken Paprikash and a Warm Boho Salad)

Two New Favorite Dishes

Since I arrived home, I’ve been vacillating between the life I started to eke out a year and a half ago after the fire (sorry to bring that up again) and “life” — after 3-1/2 months in Minnesota — following Mom’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Basically readjusting to my space.

Yes, there actually is (or once was) such a place, but some days I forget what that feels like. Between multiple phone calls to/from the care center, my Mom, the Realtor trying to sell Mom’s house from afar, her doctors, home inspectors… let’s just say I’m workin’ on it… a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

Thank God for wonderful foodie friends who know me — or at least my love of GOOD foodand who’s recent recipes appealed to my sense of the familiar.

Pictured above is Croatian Chicken Paprikash by Jasmina Brasovic. OH MY! (Be sure to scroll down to her recipe for this on FB.) Even though my grandparents weren’t Croatian (they hailed from nearby Hungary), going back to my “Czech roots” — or at least the flavors that once fed me due to mutual proximity — has been instrumental in grounding me. I sooooo needed that!

Thanks, Jasmina, xo.

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Add to that an unconventional side dish: Maple Bacon Kale & Roasted Potatoes by Ally Phillips — a “warm salad” per my Boho friend, whom I know won’t mind that I subbed spinach (minus the chicken broth) and fried leftover baked potatoes in a pinch — and you have some extraordinarily good eatin’ on your hands (or plate), not to mention hearty Comfort Food by genealogical proximity.

Jasmina and Ally both have Croatia in common — twice as nice — plus exceptionally tasty recipes! My Grandma would have LOVED how these lovely ladies “cook.”

Nourishment is more than just eating — it’s food for the soul.

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Enjoying trying something new while attempting to get back to the “old,”

~ Kim

Cornered

Cornered

The junction of two walls can get old in a hurry.

I know this because I spent much of my childhood sequestered in a little wooden rocking chair — a miniature of the ones you see scattered across front porches in the South — facing the corner for being “naughty.” Although I don’t recall specific infractions that led to my frequent incarceration (or if it was simply a means to keep a curious and evidently willful child out of Mom’s hair — I believe the current vernacular and behavior modification technique is called a “time out”), the experience was made mercifully less lonely with books.

With a Little Golden book in my hands, solitary confinement wasn’t too bad. It occupied my mind, passed the time, and fostered my love of reading. It also catapulted my imagination to places much more interesting and entertaining.

I’m resolved never to face a boring corner again!

Recently I decided to spruce up a few ho-hum corners in our home with some thrift store finds for visual interest. Books find their way into my corners, too — beloved companions during solitary stretches, albeit self-imposed this time.

And speaking of resolve… mid-January the time of year when many New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside, which is why I gave them up a long time ago. How are yours coming along? If you’re still on course, good for you. If not…

Don’t get stuck in a corner!

Life (and corners) can be as perfunctory — or playful — as you want them to be. Feel free to rearrange.

Enjoying colorful corners in 2016,

~ Kim

Thankful Thoughts

Autumn at the Lake

Perhaps this year (more than most) I have umpteen reasons to be thankful.

Oodles of ’em. Blessings beyond measure!

First and foremost is my health.

When you can’t move the left side of your body (or play piano or type with both hands or walk without dragging one leg) it gives you pause. A loooooong pause. Thanks to a lil’ (a LOT?!) of Divine intervention, I count myself among the miraculously restored.

Then, just when you thought everything that was important in your life (aka the “things” you thought somehow defined you) disappeared in a matter of hours, you begin to assess what’s really important to you. I’m talking’ about memories.

(I’m telling you, it’s memories!)

Make and/or create as many as you can — while you still can — for yourself, your family, and your friends. When it comes down to it, you can’t take it with you — but you can leave a lot behind.

Comfortable seating also helps…

Comfy chairs

After almost a year of parking my tookus on a lawn chair (and squirming midway through a movie) I begin to realize how many folks have less… much less… and my gratitude meter spiked a bazillion notches.

It also made me more discerning about what I really need (or that “w” word… want…) besides the clothes on my back. The day our recliners arrived I nearly did cartwheels in our living room — ever mindful and grateful to HAVE a living room — but I didn’t want to overexert myself.

Sometimes a nap is in order.

A place to rest

This Comfort Zone (since relocated to an adjacent corner) was courtesy of my late sister. I’m ever mindful of and thankful and grateful for it, because I’ll never forget her contribution to MY life (refer to memories above) and it feels like a HUG every time I crawl underneath the covers… ahhhhh. Again, make some memories… you never know who (or when) you’ll touch someone because of it.

Then there’s the “personalization” aspect.

Everybody has their own idea of what rocks their world, hoohah! For me, it’s vibrant colors tempered by neutrals…. a visual shock with a side of sedate. :) While I’m not completely sold on the hue yet, it’s coming along… and it may end up more “paprika” by the time I’m done… this was the first coat.

Accent wall

Since I brought up the topic of RED, I might as well show you my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie early. It’s TMOFW’s favorite pie, and there’s no reason to wait (and/or stress) until Thanksgiving morning to jockey oven space. Plus, I made it the “old fashioned way” with this red-handled egg beater — a  gift from my sweet friend Jurine, xo.

Yup, the manual kind.

Totally less ‘spatters’ that way! Plus, my man is enjoying his “just desserts” a few days in advance — whatever it takes to rock HIS world — and, I don’t have to clean pumpkin pie batter off of every counter top and appliance within a four-foot radius. (Can you relate?!) FYI, I might not be as ambitious about the whipped cream on Thursday… just sayin’.

Pumpkin Pie the old fashioned way

Last, but not least, I’d like to leave you with something unexpected cuz that’s how life has turned out for me. Sometimes a wander through the neighborhood produces a totally unanticipated delight — and something as simple as a late-season dandelion perking up its rowdy head makes me smile. (Remind me to do that more often.)

All of which leaves me counting my blessings and giving heartfelt thanks — for it, and for you.

Isn’t that what “Thanksgiving” is all about?

Autumn Surprise

Here’s one last Autumn look at the lake. It’s been GORGEOUS and I’m grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

I appreciate YOU and your contributions to my memories more than I can adequately express. I love you all!

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Enjoying untold blessings — savoring each & every one,

~ Kim

Something To Write Home About (II)

Letter writers are reporters for the newspaper of life. Columnists of the daily. Chroniclers of the ordinary. Copy editors of dreams.

That last point is perhaps best illustrated in a poem I read recently by j.i. kleinberg, author of the blog chocolate is a verb.

Please take a moment to immerse yourself in it.

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“found poem” by j.i. kleinberg (used with permission)

As a life-long letter writer I was captivated by Judy’s succinct description… an explanation, if you will, of why I write letters. (Not that I need to explain myself, lol!) She nailed it and my gut reaction was YES. (I love it when someone unexpectedly defines a part of me that has heretofore been indescribable!) Thank you.

To me, this is what letter writing is about — revealing yourself line by line and sorting out life by the paragraph. (Personally… and preferably with a pen.) No backspace. No delete. Put it out there!

Letter-writing is a soul-baring business and the best letters are those filled with unabashed opinions and juicy thoughts — our true, unedited selves. Somehow, I think poets feel the same way about writing poems, xo.

Dangly Thingy

Fluid lines appeal to me (as does transparency) in letter-writing, poetry, and “dangly things.” (This one happens to grace my current writing space — aka ‘Garden Room’ — courtesy of my late sister.) I gave it to her after she crashed her Harley ten years ago (not her fault!) while she was convalescing in a nursing home for five months with casts up to her hips and shoulders — with a terrific attitude, I might add. It brightened her room, and now it brightens my life. (And I miss writing to her!)

For every letter, there’s a designated “receiver”– someone as willing to read your thoughts as you are eager to write them — whether they write back or not! FYI, I preface or ‘postlude’ many of my letters with an abject apology of sorts: “Don’t feel like you have to respond or keep up with me word-wise.” (Can’t help myself… it’s who I am.)

Letters are our indelible history in the making (if we don’t “tell,” who will?)… a mutual exchange of souls, and as so eloquently stated, “intimate art.”

Long live poets and letter-writers!

Enjoying a lil’ soul-baring,

~ Kim